Roller Derby and sensitivity to criticism.


Lisa Rose, one of the members of a mid-Wisconsin League, her community, her family, and Derby over 4o is pissed.

While skating in a parade she heard from the team’s photographer that some women were criticizing the Derby girls, what they were wearing, the image they portrayed, the usual, and she feels very upset that she and the other  were slut slammed.

They all work hard to be in Derby, support each other, raise thousands for local community functions, and provide great family entertainment, while having to bear the costs and burdens of being in Roller Derby.  They are full members of WFTDA, sign a code of conduct and obviously contribute hours and effort towards making the organization the best that it can be.

Does it really matter what others think……especially when it was not said directly to the offended party?

My opinion?  It really depends on how it affects you ( I always like when I don’t get affect and effect confused).

You are on your own, entering a world you have come to know about and love,  with ten of thousands of brothers and sisters around the world, and you have every right to be more than proud of yourself.

But many people just don’t get it, and that is really their problem.

What is funny to me is that for so many years this was a huge perception problem for the women in Roller Derby; which was one of the few outlets for women who wanted to compete in a contact sport.  You might think that today is different, and it probably is an age thing…..those under 35 and those hip to today’s culture get it.

But just remember one thing, you can never get into some one else’s head and tell them what to think.  You have every reason to continue to be positive.

As a friend of mine once said “f*** ’em if they can’t take a joke.

23 comments on “Roller Derby and sensitivity to criticism.

  1. My initial reaction is..what does she expect. I’m not criticizing their game here. The girls who skate chose to go with silly names and trashy clothes. Having chosen to do so, I think getting offended when someone says they have silly names and trashy clothes is pretty childish. You chose to do it. You take what comes with it. If you’re happy with your choice then keep doing it and try not to let what people think affect you but if you are more thin skinned remember it was your own doing and understand why people say what they do…whether you agree with it or not.

    • I think THAT is why derby IMO isn’t going to get to the next level-they don’t WANT your typical sports fan because that would mean they get criticized and WFTDA DOES NOT LIKE CRITICISM! (Just ask Jerry)

      • you are stretching…..this has nothing to do with WFTDA and criticism……and they will never have the “typical” sports fan; they will have the Roller Derby fan, who may like to watch other sports.

  2. David, this is really damning with faint praise……please just go watch Lacrosse. ….this is all from your limited mind set…….you are a perfect example of the close-minded.

  3. Whoa, David, that’s about 1/2 a degree away from “the rape victim deserved it because she wore a short skirt.” What one wears is never, ever an excuse to treat them with less respect and dignity. Period.

  4. I hate to say this, Commish, but this is an area in which I kind of have to disagree with a lot of this.

    When someone starts comparing critiques of clothes worn by derby ladies with people who blame rape victims then reason has already left the building. I spent too much time with actual rape victims and dealing with rape cases to not think such a comparison is off base and trite.Then add to that responding to the comment that WFTDA does not like criticism by telling him to “go watch lacrosse” with his “limited mind set” and calling him close-minded. I think we may have a new definition of irony here.

    Its ok to critique someones shoes, their dress, their suit, their pants, etc. but for some reason people who critique what a group of derby girls wear are evil, small minded, and limited? When they critique the image they think it portrays they are in the wrong? And I am not even touching upon the names here, which range from cute to witty to hilarious to incomprehensible to downright tacky and vulgar (that is the whole range of what I have seen in derby across the US in general. I have no idea what names were seen in this league and certainly dont know about the parade, but I will presume they tried to keep it family friendly).

    Here, we see one picture. Now, I do not see anything in that picture that can come even remotely close to being called “slutty” or “sexy” or even suggestive. Just four ladies kicking it, three of whom look like they are about to or just finished skating. One is in a tutu. Now anyone who thinks these ladies were looking slutty has a much broader definition of it than I could ever come up with. Overall, its rather benign. Unless the people in that area are completely loco, and since its the midwest that is certainly possible, this cant be what set them off. If it was, then yes, the stick is too far for anyone to remove without doing brain surgery as well as a colonoscopy

    You can say or hope that one never gets judged by the way they dress, but they do all the time. In part because what you wear is a choice. You decide to wear things a certain way as part of your expression of self. But you best realize that your expression of self may create an impression you may not like. In that case, depending upon the circumstances, then the problem is not that “some people just don’t get it, and that is really their problem”. The problem becomes some of you demanding they get it. But just as no one is requiring anyone else to like opera, country music, fine dining, the great outdoors, hunting, MMA, and a host of other things, its wrong to say its their problem. You want to turn them into fans? Thats on you, not them. You dont care if they ever become fans? Then act like it. Move on and stop crying that someone did not like your deal. The world is full of disappointments and this one surely will not make or break anyone skating.

    Let’s also remember, how many of you in this modern movement, whether skater, fan or NSO have carried on about how you love that it’s not “mainstream”? A slew of you. Well this is what happens if you take it too far and yes some of you do. The mainstream owes you nothing. It does not owe the kid wearing the sagging pants anything nor does it owe the kid with the green mohawk anything.

    Part of self-expression is accepting that everyone else has the right to express their displeasure with that expression. That is showing strength, Not whining that everyone is not along for the ride.

    • My team also wears volleyball uniforms. Maybe what we are being judged for sometimes is a lack of shame when it comes to the diversity in age and body type and the typical derby uniform. If we were all 22, a size 2 and uniformly feminine, would there be less judgment? One thing derby will teach you, as a woman, is an appreciation for a range of body types, each with its own advantages.

      Some negativity just comes along with doing anything publicly. Someone always hates what you’re doing and wants to tell you so. Hell, you can win Wimbledon and have a BBC commentator speculate that you worked harder because your dad said you’d “never be a looker”.

      Here’s my favorite slam from a festival where we were asked to skate around and hand out programs…

      Dude: Hey where’s the beer?
      Me: Oh sorry, I don’t know.
      Dude: Then why do you look like a cocktail waitress?

  5. I think that a couple of y’all need to go read this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slut-shaming

    This is pretty much exactly what happened, as I understand it from the women who had it happen to them. This isn’t about derby so much as it’s about privilege and repression, with derby simply being a more-obvious-than-usual target *because* we (skaters as a culture) do not conform to Puritanical, heteronormatively-driven women-as-owned-objects models of behavior and appearance.

    Their response was great, in that their [male] photographer, who’d heard the comments, spoke politely with the women involved and offered them tickets to the next bout so that they could see what derby really means to and for women. No word on whether they’ll be attending, but I suspect that MS-SOS will get a lot of volunteers from neighboring leagues at next year’s parade.

    Basically, if I want to act or look like someone who doesn’t conform to your personal notions of propriety, then as long as I’m not hurting you/others, why not STFU up? 🙂

  6. I thank Jerry for addressing this issue on a wider scale and with a different perspective. I am very protective of my teammates and my league. So criticism–and this wasn’t even criticism but rather hurled insults–hurts.

    But we are tough girls and won’t take it to heart.

    As derby moves from the counter culture into the mainstream, it will change. But it can also effect (see what I did there, Jer?) change. And that is why I love the sport.

  7. Jerry, I wanted to know your feelings about former WNBA president Val Ackerman’s white paper recommendations about growing NCAA womens basketball. As you know, the WNBA is dealing with their second straight season of record low attendance and ratings. Girls are dropping out of basketball in droves and switching to volleyball. Ackerman suggests that switching to more flattering uniforms and eliminating the visible tattoos could help create more interest amongst young girls, thoughts which the current Derby is living. I put up the summary with the paper address as it is quite long.

  8. I definitely don’t see any “slutiness” in this photo. I think the point that is most powerful here is to not take it personal and I will add…lead by example. Let people stand in the muckiness of their own hate and roll on with a smile on your face. It’s their misery, not yours.

  9. is there anyone who knows EXACTLY what was said and what exactly that speaker was referring to? what exactly was being worn? what names were being used?

    Ive been to volleyball games and i dont recall anyone calling those girls and ladies trashy or anything like that.

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  11. It really is THEIR problem. We get some comments sometimes at the rink from the Ball Hockey players that come in. Some don’t understand and don’t want to and others really want to know what it is all about. One guy said to me “It’s just stupid” I was annoyed and wanted to reply “Hey you mouthy jackass I think it is stupid that you can’t skate and manoever a stick at the same time so you can’t play REAL hockey” but I am an adult so I just smiled and said “You are missing out” and I truly believe that, it is a fantastic spectator sport! That being said our Juniors dress in uniforms at games and Tournaments and I am always so proud of how sharp they look. http://www.juniorderby.me

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